Snacks / Appetizers

Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Last night on my way home I stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant where I used to eat pho. I stopped eating there because of the tiny portions (see my post about it by clicking this link:  ….Pho….
Knowing that I would be disappointed by the skimpy pho, I placed my hope into an order of summer rolls…….
Well, the same crappy principle as with the pho (a ton of stock, a tiny amount of anything else); only this time, there was a ton of wrapper (2 per roll !) and just a tiny bit of filling. I could have kicked myself for not following my own previous advise to avoid this place.
So, what’s an old cook to do? Well of course, make my own version of rice paper rolls 🙂
Mind you, these are NOT Vietnamese summer rolls! And, because of their plumpness, rather than eating them by hand, I suggest you use a fork in order to have a less messy encounter with these babies. 🙂
However, these rolls consist of the exact amount and ratio of ingredients I craved when I ordered the rolls in the restaurant and was so badly disappointed:
A small amount of wrapper, LOT’S of noodles and shrimp, and NOT drowned in fish sauce and basil. Ahhhh, the good life ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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P.S.
If you prefer the more traditional skinny shape, just arrange the filling accordingly.
P.P.S.
I am still hoping to find a decent Vietnamese restaurant around here 🙂
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Hans’ Peanut Sauce

This recipe may not be the most authentic, but it’s really, really good.
Serve it as a dipping sauce, over hot or cold noodles or as a salad dressing.

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons chili paste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk again before serving.
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Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Shrimp And Rice Stick Pillows With Peanut Sauce And Sweet Chili Sauce

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce


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 my stomach tells me that the larger the shrimp, the more I love the dish, my wallet sometimes pulls back the reins and tells me to take it easy 😦
So last week when I went to the store to buy shrimp for this dish, these small salad shrimp for $7.75 a pound seemed more suitable than the large ones for $28.00 a pound. (My wallet insisted). I had planned to chop the shrimp, then add peppers, seasoning and an egg white and prepare shrimp cakes in the traditional way. However, these here babies with the tiny cooked shrimp turned out to be just as good, perhaps even better. The texture is of course very different from patties made from chopped raw shrimp, but as I said, not inferior, and maybe even better.
Hurray for the  cheaper  solution. (Ooops, of course I mean the more economical solution ) 😦
And there you have it – more expensive is not always better!  (However, most of the time, it really is) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Shrimp  on  ChefsOpinion
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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Shrimp Cakes, Avocado Salad, Dill-Yogurt Sauce

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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A few  years after I was born, the German “Wirtschaftswunder” (Economic Miracle) was in full swing (I wonder if my existence helped?), and Germany was in need of a new, different kind of army – an army of workers, to fill all the open labor-positions. It was the time (1955) when Germany invited millions of “Gastarbeiter” (Guest Workers) to come and make their luck and life in Germany. Mostly poor, working class people from Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and eventually, in 1968, Yugoslavia, took a chance and started a new life in this new promised land, first alone, working very hard, saving money, learning the language and customs and then, usually a couple of years later, having their family join them and slowly but surely integrating themselves and their families, and most of them eventually becoming Germans. (Passport, language, customs, and all) 🙂
I don’t want to go into the political, economic and social results of this enormous “Völkerwanderung” (Human Migration), but rather talk about the effect it had on the culinary landscape.
Up until then, there were basically three culinary styles in Germany –
“Deutsche Hausmanskost”, which translates into plain home cooking
“Deutsche Koch Kunst”, or German Culinary Arts, meals that are as pleasing to the eye as to the palate,  primarily available in upper-class restaurants, hotels, and delicatessens.
“Traditional French Cuisine”, also mainly available in upper-class restaurants, hotels, and delicatessens.
Of course, this all changed rapidly with the influx of millions of people cooking the traditional food of their countries of origin, and within a few short years one could easily find a Turkish doner shop, Italian pizzeria, Greek taverna, Spanish tapa restaurant, Portuguese cervejaria or Yugoslavian restaurant serving food from all over Europe, first in the big cities, but eventually even in the smallest of villages.
(Incidentally, nowadays you are more likely to find an ethnic restaurant than a typical “German Gasthaus” (German Tavern) in most places 😦
Securely wedged in my memory are the Cevapcici of that time. Up ’til then, we did not know “Burgers”. We had either buletten or meatloaf, typically served hot with mashed potatoes or pasta and mushroom sauce, or served cold with bread and mustard.
So when Cevapcici came along, they were pretty special and exotic to our palette and view.
Spiced with plenty of garlic, oregano and cumin among other seasonings, they tasted and looked very different to anything made with ground lamb (or any other ground meat) we’d seen up to then.
They were usually served with rice and salad or with some type of flatbread and salad, often accompanied by a yogurt sauce and raw onion rings.
Again, at the time, this was pretty new and exotic for most of us 🙂
So when I got this ground lamb yesterday, I was looking forward to preparing and eating, for the first time in many years, this wonderful dish.
I am happy I did because I enjoyed every morsel of it (and so did Bella) 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !   (And full of memories) 🙂
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Pls note:
Replace the lamb with beef, or pork or a mixture of both if you prefer.
Cevapcici can be grilled, sauteed, baked (roast) or fried. However, do NOT overcook them or you are left with a dry stick of coal-like substance 😦
See the pic of the close-up of the meat. Well done but VERY juicy and tender 🙂
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Click here for  Potato Salad Recipe   (Add sliced, seeded cucumbers if desired)
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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Ćevapi (Cevapcici)

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

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I do realize that taco bowls are sooo 80’s, but I feel they still look great today, and this piece of once “in” popular food culture deserves a place within the classics we should re-visit once in a while so as not to forget them 🙂
In order to be a bit more colorful, instead of the usual flour tortilla, I have used a brightly colored spinach wrap here. Wraps come in all kinds of colors, so this opens up the visual spectrum to be a bit more varied.
As far as the filling is concerned, today I felt like bean salad, avocado, greens, and shrimp, but of course, the sky is the limit, as long as it is not liquid and you serve it right after preparation in order to avoid the shells to become soft.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Shrimp  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Salsa Mexicana Recipe  on  ChefsOpinion

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Shrimp And Black Beans Taco Bowl

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ready to go……………serves 2

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie


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As  I have mentioned before, I love to prepare my own pizza dough, pie dough, tortillas, fresh pasta, and a myriad of other things which are usually better (although not always) when home made.
On the other hand, sometimes this is just not very practical or sensible, for example at times when there is simply no time or space to do so.
Also, I have cooked just about anything one can cook, mostly? with good results, so I am not embarrassed to sometimes use  good- quality  convenience products, such as the crust I used for this pie. I actually bought it without a plan, just because it looked so delicious and I wanted to find out if it tastes as good and has the great texture it promised when I looked at it on the shelf in my neighborhood grocery store. Well – it did, even much better than I had expected 🙂
I absolutely love it and have used it already twice since I made this pie, once for an onion pie and once as a base for sandwiches.
It is supposed to be used for pizza, but for that, I will stick with my homemade dough for now.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Easy Does It  on  ChefsOpinion
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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Easy Does It # 33 – Brie and Capocollo Pie

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Bella’s Fault ! (“Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold”)

Greek Lamb Sandwich

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So  today, at around noon, I seasoned and seared this wonderful boneless leg of lamb I bought earlier, then put it in the oven to roast it slowly until rare, let it rest a bit, then serve with a nice salad for a great lunch.
Well, THAT did not happen ! 😦
As soon as I’d put the meat in the oven, Bella insisted that we go for a walk. I thought to myself ok, just around the corner, then back to take care of lunch.
But, as soon as we started our walk, she pulled me towards the park by the lake and I forgot all about the lamb in the oven. Needless to say, when we got back 1.5 hours later, the meat was well done. After kicking myself (mentally), I cut the leg into smaller, flat pieces, wrapped them in alu-foil and put it back into the oven at 375F for another 2,5 hours, at which point the meat was very tender and almost falling apart. I let it cool off a bit, then pulled it into fine shreds with two forks, seasoned it with olive oil, kosher salt, cumin, cayenne, oregano and voilà – the perfect topping for a Greek sandwich.
When I was an apprentice, my chef, Herr Mueller, used to say about cooking:
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” Any Cook Can Turn Gold Into Crap, But Only A Good Cook Can Turn Crap Into Gold. “
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And there you have it ! 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Lamb  on  ChefsOpinion
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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Greek Lamb Sandwich

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
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Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Shepherds Pie  is such great comfort food.
Meat sauce, mashed potatoes, and cheese – who could resist ? 🙂
However, there is one flaw in shepherds pie which diminishes its enjoyment a bit for me – it is entirely soft in texture and usually, the sauce is a bit bland and the whole thing, therefore, often resembles baby food 😦
Let me come to the rescue with this new recipe.
Instead of mashing the potatoes to a puree, just break them up a bit into med-sized chunks. Adding the peppers and lots of onions and garlic to the meat sauce will further increase the taste and texture of the filling of the potato shells, which will result in a dish who’s taste still resembles shepherds pie but at the same time is so much more interesting and TASTY !
Overall, this “fully loaded” baked potato is without a doubt one of the tastiest incarnations of the lowly baked potato as well as the ordinary shepherd’s pie.
While I have prepared and created dozens of variations of twice baked potatoes over the years, some more, some less exotic, some over the top and some down to earth,  using all kinds of additions to the stuffing, such as shrimp, smoked salmon, ham, different vegetables, cheese, yogurt, herbs, etc, etc., the ones I prepared today are the very best of the best 🙂
Although very simple and easy to prepare, the texture, taste, and looks are just perfect and go to show that uncomplicated food, if done right, can take the price over complicated and elaborate any time ……..
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more Twice-Baked Potatoes  on  ChefsOpinion
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Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Twice Baked Shepherd's Potatoes

Twice Baked Shepherd’s Potatoes

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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Fajas De Res

patty
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To  prepare a great meal is no problem for most of us –
as long as there is plenty of time, money and somebody who cleans up the mess afterward.
But what if there isn’t ??  Well, how about this easy solution: Fajas De Res (Beef Fajitas)
– Cut and marinate the beef and onions: 3 minutes
– Saute the beef: 2 minutes
– Prepare the guacamole: 3 minutes
– Reheat pre-made tortillas: 2 minutes
– prepare salsa Mexicana: 4 minutes
– All in all, no more than 15 minutes for a smashing dinner. Life is Good 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Viva Mexico !
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Click here for  Salsa Mexicana Recipe  and  Guacamole Recipe  on  Chefsopinion
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For the fajas, cut beef flank into slices or batons, season with kosher salt, cayenne pepper and granulated garlic to taste, saute with sunflower oil in a VERY hot pan or comal until rare, add chopped onions, saute another minute. Serve with salsa Mexicana, guacamole, sour cream, and chilies.
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Salad Of Smoked Salmon, Avocado And Egg

Salad Of Smoked Salmon, Avocado And Egg

Salad Of Smoked Salmon, Avocado And Egg

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When I got up this morning, I had a big craving for egg salad. During the day, in my head, I kept adding ingredients to the egg salad until finally, when it was time to prepare early dinner, this yummy concoction materialized 🙂
Very simple and straightforward, yet a real delicious and pretty dish that can be enjoyed either as a salad with bread on the side or, as I did, on top of toasted bread as a sandwich that left nothing to be desired for Bella’s and my dinner.
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Salads  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for more  Sandwiches  on  ChefsOpinion
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P.S.
Personally, I prefer Florida avocados over Haas avocados. Click here to read about the pros/contras of both 🙂
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Salad Of Smoked Salmon, Avocado And Egg

Salad Of Smoked Salmon, Avocado And Egg

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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NOT !!! The Prettiest Dish Of The Day –

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– but  without a doubt one of the tastiest dishes of the day 🙂
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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Today I set out to prepare a pizza for dinner, the way I love it with very little cheese and just a bit of tomato. Then I came across this jamon serrano and brie cheese in my fridge and I thought, maybe a calzone? But I am not really a fan of the texture of a calzone, so I tried something new by mixing all the garnish into the dough before rolling it out. The result was THE BEST ….. whatever it was – Pizza? Bread? Pie? or whatever name one deems most appropriate (bread, probably?) for this sexy little thing.
At first, when I started to fold the garnish into the dough, it did not look and feel as if it would come together and I thought I just screwed it up – I should really have put it between two layers of dough (calzone style).
But after a bit of a push, it worked out just fine and although the final product would not win a beauty contest (this can easily be improved), the texture and taste were absolutely first-rate. Definitely a new standard in my ever-increasing repertoire of quirky dishes 🙂
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Bon Appétit !   Life is Good !
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Click here for more  Pizza  on  ChefsOpinion
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Click here for  Lahmacun  and  Shrimp & Sardines Pie  on  ChefsOpinion
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Pizza Dough Recipe:

Ingredients :

A/P flour,   2 cups (plus more for kneading)
Water,   3/4 cup, warm
Active dry yeast,   1 envelope
Sugar,   1 teaspoon
Olive oil,   3 table spoon
Kosher salt,

Method :

Pour water into small bowl, mix into the yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil, knead until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth. Dust with flour as you work the dough. Transfer to prepared a bowl; turn dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a moist towel. Let dough rise until doubled in volume.Punch down dough. Pull dough until desired thickness and shape is achieved. If this is too difficult, roll the dough with a rolling-pin. However, in my opinion, the pizza will turn out superior if the dough is pulled.
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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

Serrano-Ham And Brie-Cheese Bread

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Preparation :
To read instructions, hover over pictures
To enlarge pictures and read instructions, click on pictures
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